You might think we’ve explored every inch of the planet, but just a few years ago scientists used satellite images from Google Earth to discover a lost world in Mozambique that is packed with never-before-seen species. Mount Mabu is home to so many new and unique species that scientists have applied for it to become a protected area – before loggers in the area can have their way. Pygmy chameleons, bronzed bush vipers and shimmering yellow butterflies are just a few of the amazing creatures that have been discovered so far.
Julian Bayliss, a conservation scientist for Kew Gardens found a new species of golden-eyed bush viper when he stumbled upon it during a survey. Since then, Bayliss’s team has identified 126 different species of birds within the forest block, including seven that are globally threatened; an estimated 250 species of butterfly, including five which are yet to be described; and other previously unknown bats, shrews, rodents, frogs, fish and plants.
“The finding of the new species was really creating an evidence base to justify its protection,” explained Dr Bayliss, “and now we’ve got enough to declare a site of extreme biological importance that needs to be a protected area and needs to be managed for conservation.” The team submitted an application for the forest to be recognized as an internationally protected area, and so far the application has been accepted on a provincial and national level – it’s just waiting to be signed by the government.
Bayliss made it clear that things need to happen quickly: “The people who threaten Mabu are already there, and really what we’re trying to do now is a race against time towards its conservation.” If the application is successful, loggers won’t be able to tear down this slice of eden just to gain access to the valuable hardwoods that lie within.
Via The Guardian
Images by Kew Royal Botanic Gardens